Title: In Omnia Paratus
Author: Laura Sichrovsky
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG or FRT
Pairing: None
Warnings: None that I can think of.
Season: Takes place at the beginning of Season Four.

Summary: A close call makes Giles wonder what the group will do without him. He forms a plan. Just how will they react to it?

Spoilers: None.

Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own Buffy, Giles (Heh! I wish!), Sunnydale, or anything relating
to the show. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk
to someone about that. Joss Whedon owns all things Buffy and has not given me permission to use these characters
as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not him.

Author's Notes: In Omnia Paratus means Prepared for All Things. It seems to be Giles's motto in life. I found myself

wondering what would happen to the kids if Giles, not Buffy died. I'm not sure if they ever seriously thought

about that on the show, but the more I thought about it, the more I decided that our trusty Watcher would have

to have a plan for that. So, here's my take on it. Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to

Joss for creating characters so fun to watch and to borrow for a bit. Thanks to Tony Head for making Giles

so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. To Janet, and Michelle for the betas.

I appreciate it! You guys are the best to work so hard for me. To Ann for everything. You are the other half of

me, my long lost sister and I love you, dear! To Samuel for being Samuel. Thanks to my amazing husband who

not only doesn't get upset when my writing takes over, but who doesn't freak about the men who live in my head.

I love him so.

In Omnia Paratus

The tea kettle whistled, steam escaping in a cloud. Rupert Giles removed it from the stove, pouring the contents into a teapot that was sitting on a tray, surrounded by cups and cookies. Putting the kettle to the side, he picked up the tray and walked towards the living room. He paused for a minute in the hallway as he caught his reflection in the mirror on the wall. He involuntarily winced, taking in the bruise that colored the entire right side of his face and the cut over his left eye. Little souvenirs from patrolling with Buffy last night. He shook his head and walked into the living room.

"And then he told me that I needed the other book," Buffy was saying as he put the tray on the coffee table.

"Oh! I'll bet you were totally mad," Willow responded, reaching over and taking a cookie.

"You bet I was." Buffy made a face, leaning over and pouring some tea into a cup. "He never told us there were two different copies."

"Buffy, you didn't let that steep long enough," Giles interjected as she added sugar to her tea.

"Looks fine to me," Buffy replied, examining her cup before adding a generous amount of cream. Giles inwardly shuddered. Buffy turned to Giles. "So, what's up?"

"Excuse me?" Giles asked mildly.

"She wants to know why you asked us to come over, G-man," Xander said around a mouthful of cookie.

"Please don't call me that," Giles sighed in slight frustration.

Xander just grinned in reply and Giles couldn't help but smile back.

"So was there a reason or were you just wanting to show off your nifty new cookies?" Buffy asked lightly.

"Well, yes...there...there was a reason."

"What is it?" Willow asked quietly.

"Nothing really," Giles hastened to reassure them. "It's just that…well, last night when that vampire almost knocked me out...there was a minute there were I thought he was going to…"

"Giles," Buffy interrupted gently. "I won't let anything happen to you."

"I understand that Buffy, but you were rather occupied with the other two. When we patrol, it's a wartime situation and I can't expect you to babysit me."

"Are you thinking you don't pull your own weight?" Buffy asked, looking at him over her teacup. "Because that's just silly. That vampire landed a lucky blow."

"And that's my point," Giles said. "I wasn't saying I didn't think I was useful. Last night, as I was cleaning my cut and washing vampire dust from my hair, I realized that all it takes is a lucky blow."

"To what?" Buffy tipped her head, staring at him.

"Buffy, if you hadn't…"

"But I did."

"And what of next time?" He asked.

"Are you saying you want to quit?" Her eyes were wide, her voice slightly hysterical.

"Of course not, Buffy." He leaned forward, smiling to reassure her. "I would never do that to you."

"So what is all this about?" Xander asked.

"It occurred to me last night that if something happened to me, I've left you completely unprepared."

"What do you mean?" Willow looked concerned.

Giles stood up and walked over to his desk. He opened the top drawer, brought out a large manila envelope, and returned to his seat. After a second of playing with it, Giles handed the envelope to Buffy.

"What is this?" She asked, opening it cautiously.

"Instructions." Giles said simply. She arched an eyebrow. "There are phone numbers in there, members of my family who'll need to be informed. Wesley's number in Los Angeles is in there. He told me he would come here and help out if you need him. There is a number for the Council, should you wish to request a new Watcher."

Buffy snorted, shaking her head.

"I didn't really think you would, but the number is there, none the less. There is a copy of my Will in there."

"Giles," Buffy said, shifting slightly. "This really is morbid. You aren't going to die."

"Buffy, you know better than anyone how dangerous this job is. No, I don't intend to die, but if I do, I want you to be prepared."

"So you give us paperwork?" Buffy looked at the envelope like it had somehow betrayed her.

"That's just part of it," Giles smiled. "I'll keep that in the desk drawer so you'll know where to find it, but I really wanted to help you form a plan."

"A plan?" Willow asked.

"With me gone, you lot will have to handle the slaying yourselves. You'll have to do the research, the training, the planning. All of it. And I've failed to prepare you for that."

"Giles, this is…no." Buffy was looking at him, her face set in a deep scowl. "Okay, we know where your Will is and who to call. But you aren't going to die."

"Buffy, I appreciate your affection," Giles said, leaning over and putting a hand on her arm. She surprised him by reaching out and taking it in hers. "Would you do this for me? For my peace of mind?"

"What do we need to plan?" She asked, sighing deeply.

Giles lightly squeezed her hand in thanks.

"For you, it shouldn't change much. You'll need to continue training. You might wish to ask someone to train with you. You'll have to think about who can keep up with you."

"Well, I didn't think you'd be able to keep up with me," Buffy replied with a laugh. She was still holding his hand and she grinned up at him. "All that tweed is deceiving."

"Yes, well." Giles hid a smile, looking at the floor. He was almost overcome by the wave of affection he felt for these children. He took care of them, but they took care of him in return. "Be that as it may. You'll need to rely on the others more than you do now. They'll take my place."

"We could never take your place," Willow interjected.

"I appreciate the sentiment, Willow, but you'll have to. You are our researcher, so you'll have to keep on top of the books and demons."

"Me?" She looked horrified.

"I've left you my books in my Will. Add that to your computer skills and you'll do just fine. Each one of you is going to have to take a larger part, but I know you can handle it."

"I bet I know what my job is," Xander said, his smile indicating that he still wasn't taking this seriously. "I'm the comic relief."

Buffy and Willow laughed, but Giles didn't even smile. He looked directly at Xander.

"You'll have to be the leader of this group."

"Are you crazy?" Xander asked, his eyes wide.

"Not the last time I checked, but on the Hellmouth one never knows. Xander, someone needs to be in charge, direct the others, supervise Buffy and her training."

"What makes you think I could do it?"

"What would make me think you couldn't?"

"Giles, I'm a major screw-up. No one is going to listen to me."

"You are not a…screw-up." Giles made a face as he used Xander's term. He turned to Buffy and Willow. "You will listen to him, yes?"

"If you think he can do it," Buffy replied, although her voice carried some doubt.

"Xander has always come through for us," Giles said quietly. "He brought you back from the dead. He saved me from having my head cut off and he rescued me from Angelus. He led high school students into battle and won."

Buffy looked at Giles and nodded; her eyes showing her doubts were eased.

"You make sense, Watcherguy." Buffy replied, smiling.

"Our little family changes, members come and go, but you three are always here. You'll have to decide what jobs the others get, but I trust that you can." They were looking at him solemnly. "I didn't mean to upset you. I just need to know you'll be prepared to carry on."

"We'll do what we have to." Buffy's face was grim. "We always do."

Giles nodded, then smiled at them.

"I never meant to upset you," He said, looking at their expressions. "Why don't we go for ice cream. My treat?"

"Now that is a much better subject," Xander replied with a smile.

They all gathered their things and walked with Giles to the Ben and Jerry's.

Later, after an hour or so of joking, easing the tension from earlier in the evening, Xander and Giles walked the girls back to their dorm.

"You will be careful, right?" Buffy asked them as they turned to leave.

"Aren't we always?" Giles asked. She seemed more aware of the danger they were all in after his talk.

She looked at him, her eyes narrowing.

"Be extra careful," she said, stepping over to hug Xander goodnight. She turned and embraced Giles, surprising him. He tentatively returned the embrace. "You too, Giles. I mean it."

Willow had gone into the room, but now she joined them in the hall. She watched Buffy hug the men and stepped forward, wordlessly hugging Xander. After a minute, she turned and hugged Giles, who blinked, stiffly hugging her back.

"I second Buffy's be careful," Willow said, stepping back.

"We will be just fine," Giles said with a smile. "You girls sleep well and we will see you tomorrow."

Xander and Giles walked out into the night, enjoying a comfortable silence. After a few minutes, Xander looked at Giles.

"Why me?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Of all the people you could choose to be in charge, why me?"

"Ahh," Giles said, nodding in understanding. "I trust you."

"Wouldn't Oz be a better choice? Or Buffy?"

"Buffy is the Slayer. She needs to concentrate on that and your job will be to keep the details from bogging her down, distracting her from her job. As to Oz…well, I feel more comfortable with you in charge."

"Giles," Xander's voice was tight with tension. He was obviously distressed.

"Xander, you have a strength the others don't. You will make sure the things that need to be done are."

"Buffy is strong too."

"Buffy will have enough to worry about. She'll need you to help her, see her through my funeral and what comes next."

"God Giles." Xander had stopped walking, looking up at him, his eyes haunted. "How can you be so casual about this?"

"I'm not being casual. I'm simply stating the facts. You will have to step up, make the funeral arrangements, see to the details."

"I…I can't talk about this." He turned quickly, walking into the darkness. Giles picked up his pace to keep up.

"Xander, please stop."

Xander stopped walking, turning to face Giles, anger written on his features.

"How can you talk like this? How can you just…" He pressed his lips together and looked away.

"Xander," Giles's voice was gentle. "I'm sorry to upset you, but this is how our lives are. I stayed up all night, thinking and worrying. Have I trained you well enough? Have I prepared you? If I die, will this group stay together? Buffy needs you all and you need her. I…it terrifies me to think I might have failed you."

"You haven't," Xander replied, still looking away. "In so many ways you haven't. I just don't know why you would choose me. I can never live up to what you are."

Giles laughed, his voice sounding harsh.

"You're already equal to the man I am. I've told you I trust you to do what needs to be done." Giles stepped in front of Xander, making sure he had his attention. "Even the very painful things."

"What are you…" Xander's voice trailed off as he saw the look on Giles's face.

"If I am…turned…"

"Giles! No, I won't even…God, how can you say that?"

"It's a very real possibility in our lives." Giles's voice was quiet in the darkness. "If I am turned, it will be hard on Buffy to slay me. It may fall to you."

Xander looked as if Giles had slapped him. His mouth opened and closed but no words came out. At last, he drew in a harsh breath.

"I…how could you even ask me?"

"Who else can I ask?" Giles kept his voice even. "Willow is too tenderhearted. She could never do it. I would hope that Buffy could, but if she can't, I need you to promise me that you would."

"What makes you think I can?" Xander was looking at him with undisguised horror.

"To spare me centuries of torment? I think you could."

"Giles…"

"Xander, I'm not asking you to stake me now. I promise to do everything I can to see to it that I am here to plague you into old age, but I need to know that if the worst happens, you will step up, that you would care enough to help me."

"I can't believe I'm saying this," Xander looked up at Giles. "I…I'll do it if I have to. But please, don't ever make me have to."

"It's all I ask," Giles replied gently. He took a few steps forward and was gratified when Xander joined him. After a few minutes of silence, Giles looked over at Xander. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry," Xander was looking at the ground. "Just be careful. You don't…before you came…I was told I wasn't good enough. You might get upset at me, but you never put me down. Giles you are…please, be careful?"

Giles was speechless. He felt very close to this young man; it felt like he always had. He couldn't bring himself to look at Xander, afraid of cracks in his emotional armor.

"Of course I wouldn't put you down," he said at last. "You are a good man Xander. Better than most. I couldn't ask for a better friend."

"You're a good friend too, Giles."

They were back at Giles's flat, standing in the courtyard. Giles opened the door and turned in surprise when Xander didn't come in. The young man stood, looking at Giles, his eyes troubled.

"Xander, I do promise to be careful."

Xander nodded, still just staring at Giles.

"I was wondering," Giles said, watching the boy. "I was completely lazy this summer and I still have the boxes of books from the library that need to be integrated into my collection."

Xander looked up at him, the darkness in his eyes lightening.

"You want me to help you shelve them?"

"I would pay you," Giles said quietly.

"You don't have to…"

"I want to. Your time is valuable. It could take several days. Maybe weeks?"

"I think that could work for me." Xander smiled, for the first time in a while. "How much does it pay?"

"Why don't I make some hot chocolate and we can discuss that?"

"With the little marshmallows?"

"Of course."

Xander grinned at him and walked into the flat. Giles knew that he had asked much of the young man that night. It might not be fair, but he knew that if any one of his children were up to the task, it was Xander.

"Can we put some music on?" Xander asked, walking to the stereo system.

"I don't have any of that noise you lot listen to."

"That's okay," Xander replied, looking at his album collection. "Why don't you pick something."

Giles nodded, collecting the cocoa supplies. He understood what Xander wasn't saying and he found the idea of sharing more of who he was with one of the kids to be both frightening and liberating. Maybe by the end of the book project, he'd even be willing to listen to Xander's music…maybe.

He put the kettle on the stove and walked into the living room, hope in his heart and a smile on his face.

The End